From the harsh, fragranced soap in your office’s bathroom to the cold of winter, there are many external factors that can cause your eczema flare-ups. The severe symptoms that eczema can bring about means having to prepare for them each day.
Here are some ideas for items to pack in a bag or your desk drawer. These can help to guard against eczema flare-ups and treat any emergency that may arise.
Lotions and moisturizers
Retaining moisture and preventing your skin from becoming too dry are two important goals when you have severe eczema. You should moisturize your hands and arms each time you wash them. Use lukewarm water to prevent your skin from becoming overly dry.
Sometimes choosing the right moisturizer takes a trial-and-error approach. Some suggestions for products you can find in travel-size containers include:
- Petroleum jelly: This ointment is excellent for retaining moisture. Because of its heavy, thick texture, it may be more suited to applying to patches of skin or your lips.
- Hand creams: Hand creams are thicker than lotions because they contain more oils to seal in moisture. But some manufacturers add fragrances or preservatives to these products. This may make them irritating. Look for fragrance-free options. Some may even have a National Eczema Association or American Academy of Dermatology seal of approval.
If you find a moisturizing product you love that doesn’t come in travel size, you can make your own travel-size product. Buy some small squeeze bottles at a drugstore or beauty supply store. Rinse the bottle with soap and water before using it to ensure it’s clean. Then transfer the lotion with clean hands to prevent contaminating the product. Label the bottle with the date and the product’s name.
Sometimes the best treatments for eczema aren’t what you put on your skin. Instead, they include what you can do to reduce stress and its effects on your body. Stocking your bag with something that can help you focus and relieve stress may cut back on worsening eczema. Examples of these objects include:
- Stress balls: These objects are easy to pack in a bag. You can take them out to squeeze or roll in times of stress and anxiety.
- Fidget cubes or spinners: These fad items are rooted in some science. Their supposed to occupy your hands and use different sensations as a means to promote calm.
- Putty: The kneading motions associated with using putty or Play-Doh can help to relieve stress. Taking a few moments to form the putty into a ball or spread the putty out while taking deep breaths can go a long way.
Besides being handy during times of stress, you can also use these objects when you have an urge to itch or scratch an inflamed area of skin. You may also wish to keep a pair of fingernail clippers and nail file in your bag. They can help to reduce the likelihood of scratching yourself.
If the soap provided at your office or school is too harsh for your skin, sometimes bringing your own can help. Pour a hand soap for sensitive skin into an empty travel-size container. Look for a hand soap that’s free of fragrances and dyes. Some even contain moisturizers to counteract the dryness that naturally occurs when you clean your skin.
Antibacterial gels are a common item in people’s purses and bags, but they’re often too drying for a person with severe eczema. This is because they tend to contain alcohol, which can be very drying. Washing your hands with a mild soap and lukewarm water is likely the best option to keep your skin moisturized.
In a pinch, a Band-Aid can be an excellent means of keeping you from scratching a red and dry area. But bandages often aren’t a long-term solution for those with eczema. You also should never apply a dry bandage to an infected area of eczema. Instead, your dermatologist can provide special wet bandages and teach you how to apply them at home, if needed.
Having these must-haves on hand can help to prevent itchy, uncomfortable eczema when you aren’t close to home. You may have to try a few different moisturizers and soaps before you find the right one. But once you do, they can keep your skin feeling much more comfortable wherever you go.